- Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
- Season 8, Episode 68
- Learn some practical ways in which you can care for your own financial wellbeing, and how this can increase your peace of mind, build hope and reduce stress.
- Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.
Ronny Miller, Director of the Gallup Federal Credit Union, and Maria Flores, Member Services Representative for the GFCU, were our guests on a recent Called to Coach. Ronny and Maria focused on the topic of how to be resilient and how to thrive in your financial wellbeing. Their insights included:
- How to use your CliftonStrengths to help you thrive in this area
- The importance of establishing an emergency fund as a first step
- The practical benefits of making financial wellbeing a priority and a habit
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.
Every individual, all 34 themes, have the potential to save money and take charge of their finances.Maria Flores, 10:18
Having that minimum emergency fund in place before you start tackling your debt is critical. And it's because having an emergency fund in place is the only thing that will stop you from acquiring new debt.Ronny Miller, 14:05
Pick one or two [recommendations on financial wellbeing] that you know will increase your peace of mind, reduce your stress or help you build hope. ... Start to implement those ... and [build] it into a habit. That's how we all do it.Ronny Miller, 50:28
Jim Collison 0:01
I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or at least here in the state of Nebraska today -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on August 28, 2020.
Jim Collison 0:22
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually just a link right above me there. You can click on that; take you to the YouTube page and sign in with your Google account. Join us in the chat. You can ask your questions live, and we'll be watching for those. If you're watching after the fact or you have any questions on anything, you can just send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, just go ahead and subscribe down there. That way you get notified whenever we publish anything new. And if you want to listen to us as a podcast, and that's OK too, head out to any podcast app, either iPhone or Android. Just search "Gallup Webcasts" and subscribe to us there and you'll get those automatically each and every time we put them out.
Jim Collison 1:11
Maria Flores and Ronny Miller are our guests today. Maria joined the Gallup Federal Credit Union team back in January of 2016 -- and Maria, I remember that day -- as a Member, a Services Representative and now also assists our Financial Adviser with Guide Rock Capital Management there. We're going to find out a little bit more about her job here in just a second. And Ronny started with Gallup back in 1996 as a consumer interviewer -- I think he was 7 at the time -- while working towards a degree in finance from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. His work with the Credit Union began immediately after graduating in '99. He's now responsible for ensuring that the Credit Union lives out its mission to its members, providing a safe and secure financial institution that leads a journey towards thriving financial wellbeing. Ronny, Maria, welcome to Called to Coach!
Ronny Miller 1:58
Thanks for having us, Jim.
Maria Flores 1:59
Yes, thank you, Jim.
Jim Collison 2:00
Good to have both of you. Ronny, in your, in your title there, you know, we talk about this idea of thriving towards financial wellbeing as an organization, and we kind of use the Credit Union as a vehicle for that. How great it is to be part of an organization that lives that mission and purpose out. Ronny, let's, let's get a little bit more -- you kind of run the place. So just give us a little, what's, what's what's your day look like in the role that you have there at Gallup?
Ronny Miller 2:25
Sure, yeah. It's a, it is a very unique situation. And we're very fortunate to have a financial institution -- albeit, in this scenario, a Credit Union -- so ingrained with our, our culture at Gallup, helping to lead that charge. My normal day is working with a great team that includes Maria and four other individuals that, that really, they know, each person knows that their No. 1 job is serving, serving members, the majority of which are Gallup associates and their family members. And to that end, not only including great service, but also service that, you know, that they can count on, that they know is in their best interests. That's why we incorporate that thriving financial wellbeing language into our mission is because it requires that type of advice. So my job day to day is managing this great team and then also working directly with members and clients around you name the financial topic, across the board.
Jim Collison 3:29
Yeah, no, that's, that's great. And you do a great job of it, by the way. So
Ronny Miller 3:33
Jim Collison 3:33
Thanks for all the work you do. Maria, same question to you: What's your, what's your, you know, what do we pay you to do there at Gallup?
Maria Flores 3:40
Member Service Representative, so all member-related services, so opening up accounts, account maintenance, just serving all of our members via email, phone, walk-in traffic. And again, like Ronny said, it's mainly Gallup associates and their family members, and try to help them succeed financially and, you know, the in the best way possible.
Jim Collison 4:06
And that's important in the sense, when we think about thriving financially, you know, we know -- we spent some time with Ryan Wolf last week talking about physical wellbeing, and some things that we can do and why that's important. And we know in a fundamental basis that it's hard to thrive when you're suffering. And if you're suffering in any one of these 5 areas of wellbeing, it can have a major impact on your overall wellbeing. And so today, we kind of want to spend some time thinking through that. I'm going to throw a link in the chat room. We'll include that in the show notes as well for, for anybody listening to the podcast, if you want to go out to it.
Jim Collison 4:41
We've spent some time, and we've got some written material on this. But today we're going to spend a little bit of time talking about it. Maria, let me, let me start with you. We know and we're going to kind of cover 3 things that can help people with their financial wellbeing, right. The goal is, today is, as we speak with coaches who are working with people, coaches have the opportunity cause they see people in these contexts, right? It's hard to coach someone if they're, if they're suffering financially. They're just distracted, right? We see this all the time. And so today, we want to talk a little bit about giving, giving some pointers, some stuff we've learned, stuff we see in our data.
Jim Collison 5:17
And of course, really, it's about finding this peace of mind, right? If you're thinking about your finances all the time, it's hard to be at your best when you're thinking about your finances all the time. So let's give a few tips. And I think this very first one is the most important. This is, and I do feel like we've laid these out in a little bit of a hierarchy. It's kind of tough if this isn't right. So as we think about helping individuals with their finances, and financial wellbeing, what's kind of a great first step of something that coaches could help people look at?
Maria Flores 5:48
Make an emergency fund account, right. Build that savings account up at least up to $1,000, right. Make that first step, that first goal, and two, maybe, again, set up that savings account. And I help members with this, Jim, all the time, to set up automatic transfers into this savings account, this emergency savings account so that it's automatic, it's just gonna start to build up. And so once they have the $1,000 available, well, then it's there.
Maria Flores 6:17
Then what's the next step, right? Build a little bit more. And I'm sure, Ronny, you can add a little bit more into it. But we see it all the time, and we always encourage our members, our Gallup associates, to build up this emergency fund account to face crisis or face anything unexpected, right? You have this car repair, that -- it's really came out of nowhere. Well, then you have this emergency fund account, and it's continuing to build because those automatic transfers are continuing to happen every time. But you do have to make it a priority. Right? It is a priority; you're gonna make it happen. So make it automatic to help you build it up and have it there and continue to grow it.
Jim Collison 6:58
Yeah, Maria, we, we say $1,000. And that's kind of U.S.-centric, in, in our thinking with that, right? What kind of advice -- and we have, we have offices all around the world. What kind of advice do we give? I mean, certainly every country has different financial pressures. And is that the same? Do we give the same advice? Or is that a little bit different as we think about other economies around the world?
Maria Flores 7:24
So I would say it would depend on each individual, right? You probably want to build up at least 6 months of your income, right? If you lose a job, you have 6 months of your income built up on that emergency fund. So it would depend on everybody, but we advise $1,000 is just the start. Because if you think about it, $1,000, how long is it gonna cover you for, right? This is more, again, for an emergency that's not too big. But you have some money in there. So Ronny, you can probably touch a little bit more into that.
Jim Collison 7:58
Yeah, you, Ronny, want -- you want to add to that?
Ronny Miller 8:00
Yeah, you know, whatever amount would cover your, your typical minor emergency. Maria, you said this perfectly. But, you know, that car repair, that medical expense, that airplane ticket that you have to buy because you don't have a choice. Those minor emergencies, $1,000 will cover, cover it. So translating that into your, your domestic currency would be different each place, but, but you can, you probably have a good idea how much that is. And I only would add one other piece, which was, you started by saying, you know, it's hard to thrive if you're suffering. And I, every time I've met with an individual who's suffering, it feels like, for the visual learners of the group, that they have this kind of real narrow focus; they can't really see past right here and now. And I feel like having that emergency fund of $1,000 just helps people take a little bit of a deep breath. You know, it really helps that increase my hope. I actually have $1,000 in case I blow a tire, you know.
Jim Collison 9:05
Yeah, it's more than just the money, right? I mean, there's some peace of mind, which, again, goes back to this idea of suffering versus thriving, where I don't, I don't worry about, OK, if something does happen, I do have something to set back on. And we're going to talk about debt consolidation here in just a second. But beyond -- this is why I think this is an important first step, in a lot of ways, of getting that because it's not just about having the money or having the resources. It's about having that peace of mind, right?
Ronny Miller 9:33
Yep, that's exactly right.
Jim Collison 9:35
Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about for, oftentimes, for individuals, this is hard. This is a hard first step for a lot of people. As we think about resiliency and CliftonStrengths and we think about using some of these talent tendencies that we have, Maria, as we help people do this, how can we kind of use those -- our inherent talent or these themes, you know, that we say, as an example, you know, I'm a Maximizer, so anything worth doing is worth overdoing for me. And so I always challenge myself to do big, audacious things with like savings, you know, turn the savings plan into some kind of crazy unachievable thing, because that's what I do. That's one idea. What else have you seen? Or how else can we help people maybe lean into this with their strengths?
Maria Flores 10:17
Well, I want to say that every individual, all 34 themes, have the potential to save money and take charge of their finances. But as we see, I'm just going to give you a quick example. I have Learner No. 1. And when I started to work for the Credit Union for Gallup, back in 2016, I'd never heard of a budget or a spending plan. So Ronny gave me this opportunity to join a financial wellbeing class. And this is the first step, right? Build up that emergency fund account. So I, as I was learning about this, I got super excited. And then I brought it home with -- to my husband and said, Oh, my gosh, I also learned, I learned about the emergency fund account. Then I also learned about making a financial plan, a budget, right? So how can we do this? Like, let's do this, right?
Maria Flores 11:07
So as I was teaching him, he has Analytical No. 1, he was asking me tons of questions, like, "OK, what are we saving for?" I mean, so many questions, like be specific: How much are you spending? How much -- so I thought, "Oh, my gosh, maybe this is not such a good idea. Because now we're going to really sit down and analyze where my money is going." And I want to, I want to say, I was a really good saver before -- even, I consider myself that I didn't spend that much money. And but I wasn't really telling where my money was going. I wasn't really focusing on that emergency fund account. I wasn't, I mean, I was saving. Yes, we did have that savings. But we didn't have a name on that savings.
Maria Flores 11:52
So we started to be a little bit more intentional about it, right? What are we going to do? OK, this is going to be my emergency fund account. I'm going to set up these automatic transfers. We're just going to make them happen, and let that account continue to grow; we're not going to touch it at all. And it has made a huge impact in our life. But I, I've seen it in other Gallup associates, other members -- even, you know, in my history with banking, I've seen how it changes people, right. But you have to be intentional about it. Even if you're suffering, there are other things that you can cut, so that your money still comes into this emergency fund account. Because one day, you're gonna need it. And if you don't, great, then it'll be there for your retirement, when you retire, for vacation or something else.
Jim Collison 12:38
No, I think that's good advice, and a good example. Ronny, as you think of -- you've worked with thousands of Gallup employees, literally, through this. As we think about throwing your themes at getting this done, anything you've seen or just, just some brief ideas, as we kind of think about how to really lean into this.
Ronny Miller 12:56
Yeah, I think Maria picked a great one with that spending plan. I think everybody has a strength in their Top 5 that they that allows them to be a little bit, a little bit Analytical or a little bit of Arranger to kind of be balancing those balls in the air, moving this -- this bucket, funds in this bucket over to this bucket. Everybody has a strength that they can lean on to help them make that process good. My one piece of advice is, Make it as simple as it needs to be, right. Don't overcomplicate unless that's a strength of yours to keep -- so as simple as possible. And just so it's something that you can actually do.
Jim Collison 13:40
Ronny, why is it important, you know, we've, we've listed these in order, in some steps. Why is getting that first before kind of, you know, cause some folks come in, they've got a debt, right, that's burdening them. And you kind of start thinking, like, I should get rid of that debt first. Talk a little bit about that -- why we, why that peace of mind is so important and to get that emergency savings fund is important to begin with?
Ronny Miller 14:04
Yeah, having that minimum emergency fund in place before you start tackling your debt is critical. And it's because having an emergency fund in place is the only thing that will stop you from acquiring new debt. And just put yourself in this position, Jim. You come up with this great plan. Very affordable, you know exactly how much you need to put toward your debt, exactly how long it will take to pay it off. Let's say it takes you 24 months. And you're excited about this plan, you're energized about it. And you are 2 months into your plan, with no emergency fund. And you have that car repair, you -- insert your emergency here. So what do you have to do? You immediately have to deviate from your plan to take care of this emergency, you become frustrated and you quit.
Ronny Miller 15:01
I love that you brought up Ryan Wolf earlier, because he has exactly the same story when it comes to physical wellbeing. People that get on this new workout plan, and they're energized about it, they're hitting it every day. And suddenly they, man, they pull a muscle. And they can't work out for 2 weeks. They step on the scale, and they've put on 2 pounds, or 5 pounds, or whatever. And they get frustrated. And many times, that's where they stop. The emergency fund helps people -- helps them keep them on their plan that they're energized about, and -- so they don't have to deviate from it completely. They only have to deviate from it to replace their $1,000. And that can be done quickly. So that's why I think it's so important that these are done in that order.
Jim Collison 15:50
Yeah. And Lisa makes a good comment in the chat room. And we haven't used this word yet. But having that provides stability, right? It's, it creates the stableness in it. And there's different ways -- we don't want to spend a lot of time -- there's a lot of different ways of thinking through debt consolidation, when we think of a snowball, or, you know, the way you approach that, maybe you take the big ones first. There is a psychological, we know there is kind of a psychological difference of starting small. Talk to that plan --starting small and getting big. I think that, what do we call that, a snowball, Ronny?
Ronny Miller 16:22
Yeah, when we, when we're, there's really 2 approaches that we primarily focus on when it comes to paying off debt is debt snowball and debt consolidation. And the debt snowball is very intriguing to me because it does -- not only does it work in reality, but the reason it works is because it plays on our own human nature, in that we list all of our debts, from the smallest debt -- maybe you got 100 bucks on a small department store card of some kind -- all the way up to our largest debt. And we're talking about consumer debts, typically credit card debt. And we list those payments, smallest to largest, minimum payments across each one. And then based on what Maria's great budgeting spending plan tool has created, you can figure out how much can I put toward the smallest debt extra. And you, you start that plan. Paying minimums on everything and extra on the smallest debt.
Ronny Miller 17:13
And then once that smallest debt is paid off, maybe it's a month, maybe it's 2 months, we roll that payment, like a snowball rolling down the hill, to the next-smallest debt, and so on and so forth. And by the time -- if you, as you continue to roll that payment toward the next debt, that snowball becomes bigger and bigger, and it ends up paying things off faster. You go from having 7 debts to 4, and from 4 to 3, and now you're really gaining momentum. And that part of it is what gets people excited and keeps them on the plan -- similar, similarly, with physical wellbeing, where you, you lose some, some pounds, and work -- this "working out" thing is working. You hit a plateau and then you lose some more, and it keeps you excited. So that's why the debt snowball piece works.
Jim Collison 18:01
Yeah. Well, I think it plays to our strengths, too, in some regards, right, and you mentioned, too, there may be some folks who are very Analytical and they want to line them all up and they want to do it by interest rate, or they want to do it, right. I think it's one of those areas where don't -- coaches, don't discourage, if somebody starts going on a plan that's gonna get them there, it doesn't have to be this one. If it's one that works for them, leaning into analytics, or leaning into being aggressive with it or lean -- whatever, right? Spend some time thinking about, OK, how do you think -- if they, if they ask for advice, there's certainly, there's certainly ways to do that.
Jim Collison 18:38
Similar, Maria, when we think about -- you alluded to this a little bit earlier -- when we think about building on that hope and, and we thought we think about budgeting, what kind of advice, as we think about coaches and helping people to start budgets. Because -- and I think some people, again, based on your strengths, that you might need a big complicated -- that's the way it was for me for a while. I had a big, complicated budget. Now mine is just streamlined and as simple as it can be. How do you help people get started with that process of getting a budget started?
Maria Flores 19:08
So we normally tell people to start in September, but you can start it anytime. I didn't start in September; I started in January, as soon as I took that financial wellbeing class. And start telling your money where it needs to go. Don't tell your -- don't let your money tell you where it's going. That's what I was doing. Like, like I told you before, I knew I was a big saver but I just didn't know where, where my money was going. My husband and I have four kids. And I handle all of the kids' expenses -- daycare, all of that -- so my money, I'd never really had a lot of extra money to save. But whatever I had extra, I would give to my husband because he then was having our just our savings account, not emergency savings at the time, but just our savings account. He was doing all of that.
Maria Flores 19:59
And, and then when we took time to sit down, and then I looked at all of my expenses, and then I had this Prime membership that I only use in December to order Christmas gifts, then my husband goes like, "Do you really use this service?" "Oh, no, I guess we can cut that one out," right? What are our goals? Right? Do we want to pay our mortgage? We have a 15-year mortgage, but we want to pay it in 10 years. What are we going to do to get there? What can we cut on, right? Like, we have all this money, we know where it's going. And it's impressive. You will find a lot of places where you're like, "Oh, maybe I don't go to Starbucks every morning." And that will save me so much money just on a month. Or just a lot of those "free trials" that you sign up for and forget about. But because you're not really looking at your account history, or going through your budget every month, you don't realize that you have those. So taking control of your finances, viewing your account history all the time, and telling your money where it needs to go -- it's the most important, I think, when it comes to budgeting.
Jim Collison 21:10
Maria, your Top 5: Learner, Harmony, Responsibility, Includer and Communication. By the way, beautiful communication being -- happening right here. So I appreciate that. When you think about the budgeting process and your own Top 5, what do you lean into? What has been helpful to you in this budgeting? Because you haven't done this your whole life, right? This was something new?
Maria Flores 21:31
I started 5 years ago.
Jim Collison 21:33
No, right on. It's just -- it's not something -- I think some people think budgets, just you're born with them. And you're not, right? So as you think about your themes, what do you lean into? What do you use when -- to make budgeting successful for you?
Maria Flores 21:46
So I want to say Learner, because I still want to learn about OK, what else can we save on? But Includer is an important one, because my husband has Includer -- no, he has Harmony on his -- No. 2, same as me. So we always both, finances is kind of a, it's a hard topic. Because when you say, "OK, I got to cut all of these costs: my Starbucks coffee every morning, that's gonna hurt a little, right; my going out for dinner every week, it's gonna hurt a little," then you have to have some type of agreement between husband and wife or, you know, whoever is doing the budgeting. So that you come to this agreement, and the budgeting actually sounds good, right? We're going to make this happen.
Maria Flores 22:40
I also have Achiever, so we write it down, check mark, check mark, check mark -- those check marks are super great for me. I just love to do that every time. I write everything down. And then by the time we know, OK, we paid off this amount -- check mark. We saved for our kids this amount -- check mark. We, I don't know, we write down all of our goals. And it is a little bit complicated, because my husband has Analytical, but he takes care of all the writing, all the doing, and I take care of those check marks because we make it happen.
Maria Flores 23:12
But not just me. I mean, I've seen it in other Gallup associates and, again, with different strengths. And for me, when they pay off a loan, congratulations, right. I'm pretty sure this is a big thing on your budget, and I try to bring it up intentionally. Because if they don't have a budget, maybe they'll think about, you know, sitting down and building up one, so that next time, the next debt that they pay off, it's gonna be another, another check mark, another congratulations, happy place. Right?
Jim Collison 23:44
Maria, I wish you could see the smile in your eyes when you said "check mark," like that was a perfect indication for you right of like, that's a, that's a motivating factor: I like checking those things off. That was super, super awesome. And I think, coaches, a great indication as you're talking with people about this area. And budgets are hard. Money is hard. Look for those moments when they smile with their eyes. They get excited with their eyes, and you know, oh, we're onto something here.
Jim Collison 24:15
Like I would say, Maria, for you, I bet there's some great opportunities if you were in a debt snowball to celebrate every single time. Right? Right? And so, so if you and I were working together on that, I'd be able to kind of use that to your favor and say, that -- let's throw a party every time we do this, every time we complete something. Ronny, your Top 5: Positivity, Maximizer, Individualization, Arranger and Developer. You come at this maybe a little bit different, and when we think about how you celebrate budget victories or how you guys do budgets, how do you guys, how do you lean into it?
Ronny Miller 24:51
Yeah, for me, it's goal accomplishment, I think. Maybe that's the Maximizer. But I, I've made a connection in my mind between managing a budget well and achieving goals, successfully achieving goals, and in some cases, achieving those goals faster, whether it's debt payoff, whether it's funding a college, a college fund, saving for something that's, that's important, a major purchase some kind. So for me, I feel like Maximizer helps me go, "OK, what else could I do to get there a little bit quicker?" Or, or how could I rearrange what my priorities are to, to make a bigger impact on those goals?
Ronny Miller 25:36
And so I am not -- like most people that I know, I was not, I wasn't born with a ledger, general ledger in my hand, doing budgets. Nor do I, I still don't enjoy the daily process of it. But the one tip that I would give people that are trying to start is writing down, take less than 5 minutes a day, to categorize the few expenses that you had the day before. It's, it's, it's really not that much time. You can do it in a matter of, in some cases, 60 seconds. Log in, "Oh, I had two expenses. They're in this category." You've just started the spending plan. You get really good at that by spending 2, 3, 4 minutes a day, pretty soon you have a great idea where your money's going, and it starts to feel really good. You really start to go, "I have more control over this! Not only do I have peace of mind, but that's builds my hope that I can actually control it."
Jim Collison 26:34
Yeah, no, I love, I love that approach particularly because I think this is an area where our -- who we are really can make a difference in understanding that, when, when folks begin to understand their natural tendencies. And then, like, budgeting is one of those really raw exercises that brings out the worst in all of us, right?
Ronny Miller 26:55
Jim Collison 26:56
Yeah, it can, it really can. And we can begin to see as -- for coaches, managers, individuals, like, how do I make this the best of me? I alluded to this earlier, that I had this big complicated -- I used Microsoft Money -- for, for the first 15 years of being married, I had this gigantically complicated budget. I kind of liked it. But over the years, I changed a little bit, and it got so cumbersome. I started regretting it. I started getting mad about it. Right. It was a way for, it was a conflict in my marriage. You know, it was one of those kinds of, you think, "Oh, a great budget would be awesome!" No, it wasn't, right. It wasn't working. And I actually want a couple years without one. I just said, "I'm not gonna do it." No, it doesn't work either. Right.
Jim Collison 27:39
So I compromised and came back to a very simple 6-month running, and so it runs out to 6 months, that's about as far as I can predict. It shows me a positive or negative balance, cash flow, and my and then I have automatic, you know, do automatic things like that's another, by the way, it's another thing that we should talk about here in a second. But I have automatic things that happen that don't have to think about right. It's taken all the complexity out of it. I do. Maria, you mentioned this, I do automatic savings, I do automatic retirement savings. We'll mention that here in just a second.
Jim Collison 28:08
But it, for me, it was a change leaning into making -- yeah, that Arranger loved the complicated. I knew every penny, I balanced it every Saturday kind of thing. But that wasn't necessarily good for the partnership I had going on here. I needed to streamline it, make it more, kind of make it more simple. I kind of leaned in with Achiever or with, with an Activator type deal. Get this, let's just get this thing done. Let's just go to it. I go to it every couple days. I don't make a crazy deal about it. Ronny, would you add anything to that?
Ronny Miller 28:37
Yeah, we, you, you alluded to it being a -- it bringing out the worst in us. And I think, especially any, any married couples can definitely understand this. The reason it can bring out the worst in us is because it forces us to, to look at our money and decide where our priorities are. And when two people do that, and their priorities are obviously different, it causes friction. And it causes us to talk about it. And that's hard. When, especially when, you know, I'll just throw myself out there and say, Man, one of my priorities is golf. That's not a great thing in a partnership, right. It's -- clearly it is, based on my, what my, my checking account is telling me. And so, so that's, that's one of the reasons it's hard. But I also think that's one of the reasons it's great, because it forces those conversations and you learn how to how to compromise and deal with that.
Jim Collison 29:40
Yeah. And I think for Sarah and I, my wife, we began 15 years ago. She took CliftonStrengths and I began -- she has very, very high Responsibility and Belief. Maria, you have responsibility as well. Understanding that I needed -- I don't. So understanding I needed to play to her Responsibility and Belief, that this needed to have a purpose, our spending needed to have a purpose and it needed to be kind of regular and predictable was really, really important to her. So not just about me. Maria, I heard you say this in, in your, in the context of your relationship as well, that having that conversation or talking about it with your partner, but in the context of those themes, was equally important. Understanding the needs, right, and understanding what you needed in it. Anything else you want to add? Does that spark anything for you and your current situation?
Maria Flores 30:28
So I do, I do want to add just one thing. So when I started to work for Gallup, I also had my coaching session with Graciela back in 2016. And she also mentioned my husband, and she said, "Has your husband taken the StrengthsFinder yet?" And I said, "No." But because I got so excited about it, I said, "OK, well, here I go." I go home, like the third day I started working for Gallup, "Hey, you need to take this." And he was like, "No, I don't." He was thinking about it, like, "Aah, I don't know that I believe in that." But of course, we get his results, and we're like, this is totally you, right? So it just, it's kind of an advice for you coaches out there. Because when you're bringing up this conversation too about financial wellbeing, it is important to know the -- your partner's strengths as well, right? To make sure that you come to an agreement, and things like that.
Maria Flores 31:28
But even just by mentioning financial wellbeing on your coach's conversations, it's super important because it's going to have an impact on those individuals, right? They're going to think, "OK, I'm discovering all of these strengths, all of these amazing things about myself. Also about career, social, community, financial wellbeing, and this is super important. What am I gonna do with my strengths to be intentional about saving money, about going on vacation, about planning for retirement?" For any of that, if you just bring up the financial wellbeing part on your conversations, it's going to make an impact. They're super excited about their discovery when they're talking to you guys, like I was, I immediately took action, and was like, "You need to take this. I need to know what your strengths are so that we can work on our physical, social, all of our, all of those things that make a huge impact in our life." And it's really what makes us happy. So just kind of that was my only thing that I wanted to add in there but --
Jim Collison 32:33
Yeah, no, I think it's good, Ronny, anything else you want to add before we move on?
Ronny Miller 32:36
I think she did a great job covering that. So I'm good.
Jim Collison 32:39
I want to think then now about the future. So you've kind of handled the present. We're thinking about a budget. Now we're looking ahead, right. And the looking ahead for some people can be just as stressful, just as demotivating, right, just as anxiety-inducing as the current for some folks, what, what's going on for them currently. So Ronny, what -- as we think about the future, then, looking ahead -- that doesn't mean only people who have Strategic or Futuristic can do this. Right? We all have themes that can play into this. But what are a few -- and Maria, then we'll come to you -- what are a few things that we think out ahead, we've alluded to some of them already, but how do we reduce stress by looking ahead to the future? What are some things that we can do to kind of set us up financially to make sure those are being taken care of?
Ronny Miller 33:27
Yeah, I think one of the best ways to really reducing unnecessary stress is establishing default systems. I'm pulling that directly out of the Wellbeing book. One of the financial recommendations: establishing default systems. It seems simple, but there's lots of ways to do that. We've talked about a lot of them without actually saying that, but automating contributions to retirement accounts; automating bill payments; direct debit; you know, just automate as many things as you, as you can. And then check in with them every now and then. And that, that by itself is way less stressful.
Ronny Miller 34:11
So I think that establishing default systems, wherever it makes sense for you, goes a long way toward reducing, reducing stress and putting things on autopilot. And then one, the one other thing that I would mention in this area is that a lot of times, people have a hard time saving, because it seems so, they seem so disconnected from what they're saving for. Even if it's "I'll never be old enough to save enough to buy a boat" or "I'll never save enough to retire." You know, that's so far off in the distance, even if you're 44 years old, like I am. It's, retirement's an obscure thing way out in the future. And if that's the case for you, then let's set up the milestones, right? If getting to $5,000 in your, in your boat fund or, or retirement fund or $10,000 or $100,000, set those milestones up and celebrate them along the way. I feel like that is a piece that helps keep people motivated toward, toward that big, audacious goal -- whether it's 2 years down the line or 30 years down the line.
Jim Collison 35:21
I love that. Justin says in the chat room, He says, Looking ahead, the Never-neverland for some people -- and, and Ronny, you just get, kind of gave a clue -- maybe it's a whole bunch of milestones that, that, that you put in front of them that have that same end. But we're still talking about, Hey, where's your retirement fund at the end of the year? Or where is your savings?
Jim Collison 35:44
You know, Maria, you, you had mentioned, you know, $1,000 dollars from that emergency fund, and I think the goal, 3 to 6 months of income, right, the ultimate goal. We still might need to do more savings, right? We may need just to have some disposable cash, some resources available. What's that look like this month and next month for some folks? Maria, you do this all the time. You help people set up these kinds of things, right, to get them moving forward. What have you seen? Like, if you were to think about some success stories of folks that you've helped, you mentioned somebody paying off, you know, paying off a debt. Have you also seen that on the savings side? What kind of success have you seen there, and why?
Maria Flores 36:23
Absolutely. Vacation accounts. So we did talk about, OK, we have to save for emergencies. But what about having fun, making memories, right? We absolutely encourage people to do that, too. It's not just about saving and staying in your budget, yes. But you also want to build that savings account, Christmas account so that you're not stressed, you know, during the holidays, or using a credit card with high interest. Building up those Christmas accounts, vacation accounts, and just watching people going to Hawaii, going to Cancun and enjoying their vacation and knowing that they had that money on that vacation account. When they come back, they're not going to be stressed about paying, paying a loan or paying on a credit card, or any any of that, because they already paid it off and they had a wonderful time on vacation.
Maria Flores 37:17
So those things are also important to write them down and make them happen. And Ronny mentioned 401(k). I just know a lot of people during crisis are like, "OK, well, let me cut that one. Let me cut that automatic transfer over there. Because I need a little extra money for something fun," right? Make those things a priority too, because they do see really far -- at least for me, retirement seems a little bit far. But if I don't build it up now, it's never, it's not going to be there. So don't, just, again, set up your priorities. Make sure you also set up a vacation account because we all, I bet you we all like vacations. And there's a lot less stress if you have the money to pay for those vacations than putting it on a credit card. And I've seen many, many, many Gallup associates enjoying their life without debt. And that's one thing that makes me happy every day and that makes what I do, you know, the best thing that I can have, the best job ever, really.
Jim Collison 38:22
Maria, -- you mentioned this, Ronny; I want to throw this question to you. We're, you know, we're in the middle of a financial crisis here, global, right. And it's, it's changed some habits. It's changed some habits for me. I, I'll admit, I've cut back out of necessity on some things that I was doing automatically before that I'm not -- I'm no longer doing. Ronny, how do I get back? So as things start recovering -- and, and hopefully things begin to come back for people -- what's your advice to get those things restarted? What do I need to do? What do I need to be thinking about? What should coaches be thinking about for the folks they're working with, to say, OK, so you had discipline; you had these things going. How do we get them back? Because sometimes, that's just as hard -- stopping those habits, and they -- I stopped them for a good reason. How do I get them restarted again? Any thought or advice on that?
Ronny Miller 39:14
Yeah, for sure. You're right. That is a that is a tremendous challenge. Momentum, inertia is such a powerful force in the financial world. We, we tend not to, we tend to just continue doing what we've been doing. And if, if we've been, we've shut off our 401(k) contribution, or our retirement plan contribution, whatever it might have been, starting it back up feels like an impossible hill to climb. So don't, you know, maybe you were contributing 10% before. Don't. Do 4. And increase it 2% every year. You're not going to feel 2%. OK, you might, but barely, right. But in, you know, in 3 more years, you'll be back to where you were contributing 10%.
Ronny Miller 40:02
You know, little things that tend to trick our mind into not feeling the pain as much, they really do work. And so, you know, taking those, those little minor steps back to where we know we need to be to accomplish our long-term goal once once things recover. You know, if we're sitting in that, in a, in a tough spot, where income has really dried up, then I totally understand. You have to, you have to keep the lights on and food on the table, and you have to cover your, your major priorities first, and everything else comes -- is secondary and may not happen. But once it does come back, and it will, then just move into it gently.
Jim Collison 40:48
Yeah, that's, that's great advice, Maria, from a practical standpoint on your end, as you're advising, we're all in this boat, as you're advising, as we're coming back. Any other advice you'd give to individuals as to how we get back on track?
Maria Flores 41:01
Yes, continue to think on your future. And don't stop those contributions, like HSA contributions, because that's for your Health Savings Account. If you ever have an emergency, you have it there. It's pretax money, right? So take advantage of those things. And like Ronny said, Don't act, you know, from panic, and stop everything unless you really need to, because it'll continue to build up by itself. It's automatic. It'll be there for your retirement. It's automatic, and it'll be there for your emergency, any medical emergency. So just kind of those things. Just think about the future because, really, finances are part of our everyday life. So think about it, take care of your finances, review them all. And that's pretty much my advice.
Jim Collison 41:47
Yeah. And kind of what I hear both of you saying is try to make it fun. Like, this is a tough subject. You know, people say, What do you never talk about -- religion or politics, when you're -- right? I think finances should be added to that triplet, right? Because this is particularly hard, especially in relationships. Like the deeper the relationship, sometimes the harder it is to talk about this. Ronny, you said something, and I want to go a little bit off script. So I'm gonna catch you guys maybe off guard a little bit. But I think in the, I think in our Wellbeing book, we talk about spending money on experiences, as opposed to things. Ronny, can you talk, just briefly talk a little bit -- what, what do we mean by that? And what's the value there?
Ronny Miller 42:29
Yeah, exactly. Buying experiences, instead of just material, material things, is one of the 3 major takeaways from the financial wellbeing section. I think, I feel like what we mean by that is that the -- those are the, those buying of experiences can mean a lot of things to different people. For some people, that's traveling or vacations. But for some people, it's, it's giving to something that's important to them, or bringing family members to, together in a way. It cost them money to do it, but they're, they're spending it on things that they know they're going to remember this experience. And they do. They, they're not going to remember that thing they bought, that material thing that they bought in a month from now. But, in some cases, decades from now, they remember people that were there, and where they were at, and the thing, the experiences that they shared with those individuals.
Ronny Miller 43:30
And, and so we try to encourage people to prioritize those things. It may be for, like Maria mentioned, by doing it through a vacation savings account. Or it can be a savings account -- you label it whatever you'd like. Literally put a name on it. I'm saving for -- I don't know, what are the some of the names of the different savings accounts you've seen people give, Maria, in the past? I've seen "Disney."
Maria Flores 43:57
"Hawaii" is a common one.
Ronny Miller 43:59
"Hawaii." Yeah, so those are travel related, but some of them aren't travel. Some of them are, are very specific to the individual.
Jim Collison 44:06
I have a tech -- my, my checking account at Gallup is just called my, my "tech fund." That's what, that's the name of it in the account. And that's what I use, you know, that's separate from the family account. And, and anything that I earned podcasting, or whatever about technology goes into that account. And it's -- then I know when it's gone, it's gone. Like I can only spend -- by the way, I'm a spender. Like, I struggle with some of these things because both, both Sarah and I are kind of spenders in our relationship. We love to spend money. And so we have to trick ourselves into saving it.
Jim Collison 44:39
And the best thing I ever did was start a Christmas account. Like it wasn't until I was on the board of the credit union. And I'm like, OK, I got -- you guys talked about this -- I'm like, I got to do this. Christmas was killing me. I was actually getting depressed because I couldn't give as much as I wanted to during the Christmas season. I get angry about it. And man, setting up that Christmas account totally changed my wellbeing. Now I go into November kind of looking for, I got this, got this cash that I can kind of throw at all these things -- or at least give to Sarah throw at all these things. Let's just be really honest on that one. And it just totally changed my wellbeing. Maria, any, anything else you want to add in that area as we think about removing that future stress?
Maria Flores 45:23
Well, you don't have to be a financial expert. So like, I've been in the banking world for about 7, 8 years. And I've only started leaving with a budget for 5 years. And it has changed my financial wellbeing life. But not just financial wellbeing, even physical wellbeing because it has released so much extra stress. And my husband and I have come to an agreement, this is what we're doing. But there's a lot of people that are not in a relationship, right? They're single, how did you coach them to take, like, take care of their financial wellbeing? Maybe bring up a friend right to say it out loud: "I'm gonna start saving for -- to go to Hawaii." "I'm gonna start saving to give money to charity." Right? Just be intentional about it. I just feel like sometimes even having a relationship can bring a little bit more conflict. Because when there's only one, it's just you, you make your decisions, you make your budget, and it goes really smooth. But just saving for the future is, is always a key thing.
Jim Collison 46:34
Quick question from the chat room and then two really good comments. Heather says, "I love spending on experiences, but I have a hard time spending money on things. That's why I have very little furniture. Any thoughts on how to plan and pull the trigger on physical things?" And I, I kind of, I kind of know where Heather's at. I'm bad at like spending, like, like the big purchases, like, you know, like a car. I'll just think about that forever. And I need to do it, right. It's -- it's a weird -- "weird's" not the right answer. It's a different problem than we expect from people. But Ronny, when you think about having trouble pulling the trigger on physical things when you need to buy them, it's not a matter of want or overbuying. Any thoughts on that?
Ronny Miller 47:14
Yeah, I think you know, and there's probably a threshold for the dollar amount of item we're talking about. But, I feel like creating a short list of those, those significant things, maybe it's an experience, vacation, maybe it's a couch, maybe it's, you fill in the blank. Creating that list, with a dollar amount beside each one, approximately what that cost would be, and then prioritizing, prioritizing the list -- what's most important to me? And if a couch is at the bottom, that's great. I don't care. I mean, that's where it should be if it's your lowest-priority item. So I -- but I feel like at least taking a look at them collectively is very beneficial. Because then we can start to assign well, how much would I need to actually save toward that goal? And when could I get there? And I -- that's a really simple Excel formula, if you're an Excel person, to do that math, and that's why I love it. Keeps it, keeps it top of mind. And then when your life changes, and you need to take something off the list or add something else, it's right there.
Jim Collison 48:23
Yeah. A couple quick comments, back to the experiences idea. Justin says, "We quickly reach saturation in life for material things and needs and to have in our homes. But there's an endless space for experiences," right, in those and that, that time spent doing that. And then Lisa makes a good comment. She says, "For me, shopping can be an experience. Right? It can be about possibility. If the store has good salespeople, it's a Learner experience. I don't necessarily buy a lot," right. I mean, so this is what we want to get you thinking, right? Certainly, when we think about financial wellbeing, the resources we have available, whether that be money or whatever that looks like in the environment that you're in, that's the bottom, we got some things we got to do right here.
Jim Collison 49:07
But it's really about what does that do for us? I think this is -- as we think about wrapping this -- what does that do for us in our, in our state of mind, in our wellbeing? Is it stressing us out? Is it causing us worry? Is it keeping us awake at night? Is it, is it causing conflict in relationships? Is it stopping us from thriving? Is it causing us to suffer, regardless of what that is? I think we have to kind of think through that from our time and treasure, because certainly time can be a resource, right? Where we spend our time. I think Larry Burkett, who was a financial planner for a lot of years in the Christian space, says, "Where your treasure is, your heart is also," right. And so there's an opportunity to like what are we, what are we emphasizing here? And is it, is it causing us fulfillment? Are we getting fulfillment out of it? Are we getting -- are we thriving and not suffering? Ronny, I'm gonna go to you first. And then Maria, you next. Any final thoughts on this as we kind of bring this in for a close?
Ronny Miller 50:05
Yeah, I think it's, it's, it's so simple yet so complicated, because, because human beings are involved, right. But if you think through those, those major objectives of, you know, increasing my peace of mind, building hope and reducing stress, even if, if you're, if you're thinking through some of the recommendations we made on here, just pick one or two -- one that you know will, will increase your peace of mind, reduce your stress or help you build hope. Pick one or two of them and start to implement those or, or give, you know, coaching assistance around those areas where you know it's going to make that type of impact for a client. And, and don't overcomplicate it, you know. That's how you eat the elephant, right, one, one bite at a time. And so, just like Maria did 5 years ago, started doing it and built it into a habit. That's how we all do it.
Jim Collison 51:04
Yeah. And Ronny, I love those three principles, instead of saying, you know, "Oh, it's about a budget," or "Oh, it's about a spending plan," or "Oh, it's about creating an emergency fund." When we talk about that idea of hope, you think about reducing stress, right? I mean, those are things people can really kind of grab on to and understand. The mechanics of how you do it are gonna be different for everybody. But those 3 points are great. Maria, what else would you add? Anything else as we, as we close this up?
Maria Flores 51:31
Yeah, just don't forget to mention "financial wellbeing," and again, they're in that strengths discovery journey that they're gonna listen to every single word that you're saying. So just mention it out. And let's be financially successful.
Jim Collison 51:46
Yeah, you had an experience like that yourself. Right? You just recently were coached, and one of our coaches said, "Hey, you should look at this." And you were like, "Whoa, this is great." Right? They're listening. Right?
Maria Flores 51:57
Totally. You're absolutely listening. And those coaches out there are making an impact and changing life every single day. I have great admiration for everybody, super talented. And, I mean, it has been the greatest discovery of my life -- not the financial wellbeing piece, Ronny, sorry to disappoint you. But CliftonStrengths has been because it has changed my life. I mean, I intentionally use my strengths every single day. I pack them to work every single day. I intentionally use them for my financial wellbeing, social wellbeing, for every single aspect of my life. But that's because I listen to my coach, right, I listen to my coach and then now take action.
Maria Flores 52:39
And yes, financial topic is not an easy one. Because sometimes we have to cut on things that we really enjoy. But we have to set those priorities in order to save for the future, in order to have those super fun experiences -- because they're expensive, but they're totally worth it because you're spending time with your family, right. So just, just have fun with it. It doesn't have to be super complicated. Bring it up on your conversations. And I assure you that your clients are going to love you because you're changing their life.
Ronny Miller 53:10
Good job, Maria.
Jim Collison 53:11
I don't think we could say it any better than that, just to be honest, Maria, thanks for your, for your genuineness, by the way, in that and, and just -- it's great to work with you. I look forward to the day we get to see each other a little bit more often. I pop into the Credit Union whenever I can. it's one of my favorite places to hang -- it actually makes me feel good to be in there, to know, like, this is a healthy place to be. So thanks to both of you. Ronny, thanks for doing such a great job managing it for all the years that you managed it. And we look forward to many more years to come as well. You guys hang tight for me one second.
Jim Collison 53:46
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, including that article that we'll post both in the show notes, I've been posting it in the chat room as well around this. We've got a quite a bit we've written on financial wellbeing on gallup.com. So head out there, just search "financial wellbeing" and there's lots of great topics around that that you can get more information on, including this webcast. This may be the first financial wellbeing webcast we've done on Called to Coach. I think -- I'm not sure if we've ever talked about this before. So we'll have to do more. Well, we'll get feedback from you. Send us an email. If you enjoyed it, send us an email: email@example.com maybe Ronny, we should do more around this topic.
Ronny Miller 54:21
I would love to. I bet Maria would too.
Jim Collison 54:23
It would be great, and we -- listen, at Gallup we have the advantage of having you guys; not everybody does. But finding a great financial institution that cares about you as an individual more than you as an account number is, is very, very helpful. If you want to join us for these programs coming up, I mentioned career wellbeing is next, and that'll be in about a month or so. You can follow us on our Eventbrite page: gallup.eventbrite.com. just follow us there. You'll get a notification when I post that. I'll be posting that in the next couple days here. You can also join us in our Facebook group and know everything that's going on: facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach. You can also follow us on LinkedIn -- maybe you're not a Facebooker, and that's OK if you're not; it's a crazy place right now. You can go out to LinkedIn and search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and get there as well. If you're listening live, thanks for joining us. Some great comments out in the chat room, and it's always best live. So if you have never joined us live, come out and do one of these. Thanks to the chat room that is out there. And if you found this helpful, please share it. We'd actually encourage, grab the link, share the podcast, share the YouTube, whatever. I think there may be some folks that you know that may need to hear what we said today. So we appreciate you doing that as well. With that, we'll say, Goodbye everybody.
Ronny Miller's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Positivity, Maximizer, Individualization, Arranger and Developer.
Maria Flores' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Learner, Harmony, Responsibility, Includer and Communication.